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Saturday, December 03, 2016
USDA Can No Longer Hide How Much Money Stores Make From Food Stamps
All across America, families use benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — formerly, and colloquially, known as the Food
Stamp program) to buy food, but participation in SNAP varies from store to store, and the federal regulator that oversees the program has denied requests to turn over data on retailer-specific use of SNAP benefits. However, yesterday a federal court ruled that the government can no longer shield this information from public view.
The ruling [PDF] comes out of a long-running legal dispute between South Dakota’s Argus Leader newspaper and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 2011, Argus staff filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the USDA, seeking — among other SNAP-related information — data on how much revenue certain retailers had made from SNAP benefits. The USDA denied that request, citing a number of FOIA exemptions that prevent certain information from being disclosed to the public.